Continuing on with this whole “reading books” thing, writer and expat Karen McCann of Enjoy Living Abroad has just released her newest book, Pack Light: Quick & Easy Tips for Traveling Everywhere with Exactly the Right Stuff. For the sake of brevity – no one has ever accused me of being brief – we’ll just call it Pack Light.
Quick summary: This book is, plain and simple, a swift read with about 50 tips on how to pack light and keep yourself mobile and happy while you’re on the road. As straightforward as it gets, really.
While we are friends with Karen and have known her since our last stint in Seville, Spain, back in 2013, we’re not here to promote things we don’t like. Fortunately, for us and for her, she’s a damn good writer and brings a damn good book to the table.
We all know the old cliche of the traveler walking down the street with huge bags, or too many bags, or too many…things. Clumsy and (probably) unintentionally rude, we’ve all been there and many of us more experienced folks tend to simply shake our heads in sympathy/pain/embarrassment/etc. when we see these folks on the streets in the various lands we inhabit.
Being the person who travels with too much is something of which we must all be guilty, almost as a rite of passage for a burgeoning traveler.
If you’re young, or you haven’t pushed yourself into wandering mobility just yet, consider Karen’s book a great tool with which you just might be able to escape the learning curve of packing your bags and staying light on your feet.
It’s a quick, concise book, full of easy-to-read pointers that will instantly have you thinking about how you comport yourself, how you travel, and how you pack.
If you’re really into it, you’ll find yourself constantly looking to get rid of things you don’t – or even might not – need, lightening your load and feeling adventurous about how much less you have and how much more you can enjoy your trip.
Our pro/con bullet points…
What we like:
- It’s no-nonsense. Step-by-step guidance to give you an idea of the overall experience and benefits. Bullets on how Karen and her husband, Rich, pack when they travel so you can have an actual real-world example and not just a bunch of fantasy-world ideas of how awesome you could be.
- It’s realistic. In the book, Karen uses an example of the spy-thriller character Jack Reacher, traveling with nothing and buying new things in each new location. Nobody does that. At least, nobody without serious means does that. As much as I aspire to do that (and maybe to have those means?), it’s unrealistic. People take things with them, and that’s okay. But, come on, people – let’s be reasonable with the ‘things’ part of that sentence.
- It’s concise. You will not be given oodles of stylistic writing and attempts at Shakespearean verse. This is not prose – this is a guide. And a guide should be straightforward and clear, which is exactly what this book is. You should not be confused by what you read, and you should not have any comprehension-related questions when you’re finished. You should only have questions about how awesome you can be and how great of an experience you can have with your new-found brilliance.
What we don’t like:
- What’s your bag? Not a roller, that’s for sure. Bag choice is mostly subjective, and the case can be made for rollers, backpacks, and all things in-between. Karen opts for a roller here, which is mostly fine and you’ll probably be okay with one. I, however, have a whole list of reasons why I don’t like them. Without getting into too much of a whining session, the absolute number-one reason I can’t stand rolling luggage is because the telescoping handle and wheels eat up your interior space. Ever tried to cram a pair of size 12 (EU 46) shoes into a piece of rolling, carry-on luggage? It’s not a pleasant experience. That’s just one example of why I can’t stand typical rollers, although there are a few companies out there who’ve attempted to alleviate the space-eating capabilities of this bag style. We use these bags with one, shared, external roller between us. Anyway, this choice is mostly up to the user, and maybe I’ll cover it in a post some day, beyond my rage in this post from a few years ago. Regardless, a roller is better than a backpack – just ask the actual back of most people our age or older.
And that’s it! Seriously. Karen covers all the bases in Pack Light, and again, it’s written in a manner made for easy understanding and happiness for days. If you travel, or if you want to travel, or if you will travel at some point, you should buy this book. It barely costs anything, and the benefits flow in spades.
And we’re done! Enjoy your travels, friends.
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Have you ever read any of Karen’s work? If so, what’d you think? Any thoughts on packing? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!